UK veg prices to rise

Updated: 21/07/2008

source: 7/21/2008

Desperate British vegetable growers are lobbying supermarkets to increase the price they pay for cauliflowers, cabbages and broccoli by around 30% in order to keep the industry from total collapse. Suppliers have written to Tesco, Asda, J Sainsbury and Wm Morrison explaining that their overheads will shoot up over the next year because of a near trebling of fertiliser costs and sharp increases in the price of seed and fuel.

Large growers with combined annual revenues of well over £100m have told The Daily Telegraph that food price inflation – currently 10.6% – will hit new heights next year. Geoff Philpott, who runs GG Philpott & Son, a Kent-based cauliflower grower, said his fertiliser costs would triple over the next year, while other costs – for seeds, spray, staff and fuel – were likely to increase by up to 30%.

“It is doubtful whether our crops can be financed over the next year,” said Mr Philpott, who sells vegetables to wholesalers, exporters and big supermarkets and grows 103 varieties of cauliflower. Greville Richards, who runs Southern England Farms, which supplies sprouts, cauliflowers, cabbages and broccoli to supermarkets, said: “Vegetable inflation has not hit UK shelves yet. I don’t think the Government realises that real inflation will come on stream next year.”

Mr Richards’ fertiliser bill will rise from £812,000 this year to £2.2m next because of an increase in the price of fertiliser from £203 to £550 a tonne. Mr Philpott, who has written to the businesses he supplies, needs 44p per cauliflower this year to cover his costs. This will rise to 50p next year. He is currently paid just 39p.


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